#sorelatable Podcast - Ep 3 - New Avenues to Healthy Boundaries


Randi Buckley, creator of “Healthy Boundaries for Kind People,” and I first spoke about boundaries about two years ago and now we’ve reconvened to explore new avenues to healthy boundaries.

Boundary setting is a practice that often starts in early childhood (with siblings at home or with others on the playground). We begin to experience those feelings of discomfort when kids and adults cross our boundaries – even if we don’t realize that’s what’s happening. We feel uncomfortable, frustrated, disrespected, annoyed, or we just want to hit, cry, or hide.

Conventional wisdom (including parents and teachers when we’re younger) often tells us how to handle these situations. What we’re taught, doesn’t, however, really align with what we feel innately.


People tend to be very heavy handed or too loose with boundaries.


We set clear boundaries, are focused on being consistent with those boundaries across the board, and come off as very firm and rigid, so that others will respect them. If they don’t respect them, they’re going to really hear about it.

Alternatively, many of us have no or very loose boundaries, because we don’t really feel comfortable setting or upholding boundaries at all. We don’t like confrontation and we want to be viewed as a nice person. In fact, the most kind, compassionate and empathetic people struggle the most with boundaries, because — they just don’t feel right to them.

Do either of these work out for us? No, not usually.

What tends to work, according to our guest, Randi Buckley, who has done much work on the topic of boundaries, is applying boundaries through three lenses: context, nuance, and discernment. This means, basically, try not to be so rigid. Think about applying boundaries, kind of like dressing for the weather. Consider the time, situation, audience, and context. Focus on discernment, instead of being rigid or armored

How can you begin to identify some healthy boundaries?

Start by asking yourself these questions, when discomfort arises:

  • What value is not being honored?
  • What’s missing here?
  • How can I turn this around?

Once you determine what’s missing, find creative ways to insert it back into the situation. Put your values into action.

Ex: How can you invite more of that missing value (e.g., compassion)? Don’t just fill in the gap with other things. Use your missing value as a verb. Let it serve as a boundary.


Embrace the pause.


Setting healthy boundaries is a learned skill and with practice, it improves over time. We learn to identify the issue, process how we’re feeling, ground ourselves, and then identify the area where we are feeling disrespected (the pause) – before we respond.

Try not to have a knee-jerk response. Count to three in your mind. Avoid that regret for unintentional statements made. Be more intentional with your words.

Get comfortable with awkward silence. Frame your responses after having some thought.

People-pleasers get a bad rap and may have the hardest time…

For people pleasers (and much of the rest of the population), the things we like about ourselves are things we do that are in service to others. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not.


People pleasers measure their self-worth based on what they can do for others.


However, stop and ask yourself: are you doing something because you want to or are you doing it out of some sort of obligation?

People pleasing and healthy boundaries can equally impact your self-esteem and your health. How?

When we feel our boundaries are compromised, we tend to feel badly about ourselves, our body feels stressed, and releases cortisol (the stress hormone). Healthy boundaries help you to respect yourself more and physically bring you to a parasympathetic state (not in your fight or flight cortisol high - but your healthy resting place).

So, how can these two things coexist? We may engage differently depending on the situation and the person with whom we’re interacting. We may carve our time or opportunities to “turn off” our people pleasing (or caregiving) mode when it’s safe and doable.

What can you do now to work on having healthier boundaries?

  • Where is resentment? Start there. This is where a boundary wants to be.
  • What other feelings are there instead? Shame? Burden? Ethical issues?
  • Ask yourself: Where in your life do you feel respected? Where in your life do you feel disrespected?
  • If boundaries were defined as respect, what would it take to get there?


Boundaries are containers for worthiness. They are the conditions you need to live the life, have the relationships, do the work, etc., that you want.


Depending on what it is, they’re going to look different in different contexts. Create the boundaries and then learn how to effectively communicate those to others. With family and friends, use statements like, “I’m taking the morning off” or “I’ll see you at dinner.”

If you’re at work: I’m not going to meet that deadline, because I really want to do my very best on this project.

Give people the menu of options instead of a list of the things they can’t have.

Boundaries are like an instruction manual to get you at your best.

Keep in mind that sometimes we may negotiate our boundaries. We may need to check in with ourselves first to see what it is we need to set.

Stay flexible. You never step into the same river twice. Things are always changing. We’re constantly adjusting. Check in to see what has changed.

Pause to actively listen to what you need in that moment and to be able to respond to that person, be comfortable, and out of that hypervigilant state. What is the thing that’s going to work here for me? Go beyond the simple “no'' and “yes.”

The pause is everything. It’ll help you to not offer something you hope they’ll decline. Instead, you can offer something that you hope they’ll accept. “I want to make sure I give you the right answer. Let me think about that. I’ll get back to you by the end of the week.”

Key Takeaway: Give yourself a minute.



Randi Buckley’s work points toward exploring one's own divinity, in support of forging a personal identity that merges head, heart, and intuition. She offers a support suite of self-study solutions, as well as personal coaching in an intimate one-on-one setting, including Healthy Boundaries for Kind People.




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